Citing unnamed European intelligence officials, the article provided considerable detail, though it did not name this mystery man ("Two people, independently of one another, provided the same name, which McClatchy is withholding pending further confirmation.")
Although sources could not agree whether this Frenchman gone rogue had belonged to the French military's special forces or the country's foreign intelligence service (DGSE) — or perhaps both — the piece left no doubt that this was a very serious problem. The defector, said to be skilled with explosives, represents a grave threat to his former employers.
From any counterintelligence viewpoint, such a defector into the jihadist camp — the first from the West by a bona fide intelligence officer — would be very bad news indeed. Worse, the US missile strikes did not manage to kill this most wanted renegade.
While US intelligence officials did not comment to McClatchy on the piece, the reaction in Paris to its publication was swift and solid.